A Few Old Standbys

This summer hasn’t been as hot as most, but it’s definitely dry here.  It feels like we’re the only spot in Texas that hasn’t received much rain.  So things are beginning to look bedraggled.

But some things just keep on going.  Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora) has performed for many years in this spot.

And the aroma.  It just perfumes the whole area.

Only drawback to this vine is that it must be cut down to the ground in late fall or winter.  Otherwise it will fall over, trellis and all.

Duranta (Duranta erecta) doesn’t even begin to flower until mid or late August.  Makes for strong anticipation.

The tiny flowers remind me of a nosegay.

Good old pink and white Gauras (Gaura lindheimeri) just keeps on blooming from spring to freeze.

I was watching all the bees zooming from one flower to another, only stopping a second on each one.  You can see one in motion in the picture.

Old fashioned Geraniums bloom all summer.  These came from a friend years ago.  I usually propagate some in late fall when everything goes in the green house.

Sorry, I should have pulled off the spent blooms before taking the picture.

An absolute must for gardeners who want butterflies in their yards.  Blue Mist Flower (Conoclinium coelestinum) guarantees Queen butterflies.

According to the Texas Butterfly Ranch, “The bloom of the mistflower contains a special alkaloid that male Queens ingest, sequester, and later release as an aphrodisiac to attract females.”

Mexican Petunia (Ruellia simplex) has been in this spot at least 15 years.   It spreads by underground rhizomes, so I have to watch carefully to keep it within bounds.

I don’t think it’s even possible to kill this stuff.

There is a hybrid that grows low to the ground and is well behaved.  It doesn’t spread like crazy.

Passion Vine is surprisingly hardy.  If you look closely, you’ll see my nemesis – a native Morning Glory vine that takes over.  It has heart shaped leaves.  I don’t know how fast it grows, but I can’t keep ahead of it, especially when it gets hot.

A few flowers still appear on the Crinums.  Their star time is in late spring.

There’s that vine again.  Bah, humbug.

Every year Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) spreads out a little more.  Now the invasive morning glories are trying to cover it all.  I doubt if I could even find where the vine is growing in the ground.  So I pull it off, trying not to yank out the bushes under it.

Love this hardy bush and the bright red turban-shaped flowers.

“Gardening will break your heart, but each time you fail, you learn something about yourself and the plants you’re trying to nurture.                                                                Gardening will break your heart, but don’t give up. Also, try not to make the same mistakes. Learn from them instead.”                       Dee Nash

What’s Normal?

Quick.  Name 5 or 10 ways your life was not normal during 2020.  Here’s my list:  School closings, Masks, Isolation, Restaurant and store closings, Stand six feet apart, No travel, Quarantine, Nasal Swabs testing, Social distancing, Events canceled, No hospital visits, Virtual school and everything else.  I could also add limited supplies, especially paper goods.

Here we are in 2021 and things have continued to be unusual for some of us.  The first half of the year had some of the same restrictions listed above.  Add to that covid vaccinations and strange weather patterns, especially for us in Texas.  The epic freeze that lasted for days will always remain in our minds and in the records.

During July, we’re usually melting under three digit temperatures and piercing sunlight.  Instead, we’re having mild temperatures (in mid to high 80’s and a few 90’s) and humidity.  The areas around us have received heavy rains.  We’ve managed a couple of inches in two weeks, which is still unusual.

So plants, like this Gladiola are blooming way past their normal time.

Many container plants were lost during the unheard of below freezing days. So I replaced the yellow Cannas.  Still like them slightly elevated in the trough.  

Also lost Dusty Miller, but it’s an inexpensive plant that grows quickly.  It’s already grown tall from a small bedding plant.  During most winters here, it survives in a pot.

After the dead branches and trunks were cut off, Basham’s Party Pink Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei ‘Basham’s Party Pink’) is showing off.

We’ve had to cut away dead wood from many trees and woody shrubs and lost one large Texas Ash.

Big puffs of soft pink clusters draw one’s eyes up high.

One plant that did not suffer at all was White Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri).  In fact, it’s multiplying so fast that I’m finding clumps all over this flowerbed that need to be dug up.

Not sure if Gaura’s nickname Whirling Butterflies refers to the flowers that twirl around in the wind or the many butterflies that land on it.  It feeds lots of pollinators.

‘Ellen Bosanquet’ Crinum Lilies are bold in their leaf size and flowers.  I like both their buds and unopened flowers.  A good old southern standby, it’s tough as nails.  It really thrives on the east side of the house.

Their opened flowers only last a day or two, but others are opening soon.

The return of this unknown plant surprised me.  I’ve had it about three years and don’t know what it is.  I thought it was a sage, but it doesn’t get tall or woody.  The taller stems reach a little over a foot tall.  It dies down to the ground and returns in early summer, even this past winter.

Two hardy plants:  Blue Fortune Agastache and Marjorie Fair Polyantha shrub rose.  Marjorie Fair rose has clusters of roses on long stems that tend to bend low to the ground.  Both of these plants are great performers.

So, whatever you consider to be normal, I hope you’re having a great summer.

“Life is infinitely stranger than anything the mind of man could invent.”                    Arthur Conan Doyle

Pink Hues

Summertime’s heat and strong sun has taken a toll on plants.  It’s hard to keep everything watered.

However, these climbing rose bushes are hardy.

This one with pale pink flowers is an old fashioned or antique rose.

Crinums are some hardy bulbs.  They thrive in the southern part of the US.

Ellen Bosanquet Crinum Lilies grow from large bulbs that multiply freely.  Their deep, rich color is spectacular.  No care needed.  Just a little water, but bulbs have survived for years in abandoned home sites.

Perennial Dianthus ‘Raspberry Surprise’ is a joy to see each spring.  They also bloom all summer but do better in partial shade.

Even though this is a Texas Purple Sage, the flowers look more pink than purple to me.  It’s also called Texas Barometer Bush and Texas Silverleaf (Leucophyllum frutescens).  Some bushes do have a true purple color flower.

This sage can survive dry desert conditions, but It only blooms after a rain shower.  We had a quick one a few weeks ago.

When plants come up that I don’t recognize, it’s a mystery.  Maybe it’s my memory, but sometimes I’m sure that I did not plant that particular plant.

For instance, this flower growing close to the ground.  For weeks, I watched the deep dark purple foliage trying to guess what it was.  Then, voila, one morning this gorgeous flower appeared.

Certainly, it was a nice surprise but I like to put a name with a plant.  It certainly looks like a Rose Mallow.  An internet search makes me think that it’s a Hibiscus ‘Dark Mystery’ rose mallow.

Another surprise in this same flowerbed.  To the left are leaves from a Amaryllis.  At first I thought that’s what this was, but it’s definitely too hot for that, and there’s no foliage.

So I think it’s a Naked Lady.  A little research showed it to be a Naked Lady or Surprise Lily (Amaryllis Belladonna).  Aptly named.  The foliage dies and then the stem grows.  They bloom in the summer.  Mystery solved.  Since it’s a bulb, I guess I did plant it.  Crazy.

“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it.  It just blooms.” unknown

On the Cusp of Winter

Although there was one early freeze, the temperatures since that night have been up and down, but still fairly mild.

This Red Oak has been losing its leaves slowly and is currently pretty bare.

So these pictures are a few weeks old.  Early morning light casts a golden light on the leaves.

…and gives the acorns a polished mahogany look.

Acorns and dead leaves cover the ground around all the Oaks.

Dried leaves of Crinim Lilies insulate the bulbs that will bring spring beauty.

A skeletal Bur Oak stands tall against the blue sky.  Burs produce huge acorns – the cap of one still hanging on.

The brittle, dried remains of Purple Cone flowers(Echinacea purpurea) provide visible interest in a winter garden.

Piet Oudolf, a Dutch gardener has become internationally known for his New Perennial Movement.  Basically, this means he advocates for how plants, mainly perennials, will look in all four seasons.  So these Cone flowers have a distinctive winter look that is noteworthy.  He designed several prominent public gardens in the US around this concept.Stalks of American Basketflowers  (Centaurea americana) stand tall and proud throughout the winter.  They have become one of my favorite Texas native wildflowers.

Leaves of Chinapin Oaks with their slender long shape don’t look like the leaves of most other Oaks.

Dried Gregg’s Blue Mist flowers look prickly but are actually soft.

Globe Mallow or Desert Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) tends to be evergreen or blue-gray green during the winters.  Some late orange buds remaining on plant.

The tops of tall Rose of Sharons (Hibiscus syriacus) form a sculpture against the sky.

More orange leaves from a Red Oak.

Fragile stems of a wildflower that I can’t identify.  They are volunteers each summer in a flowerbed.

The brilliant red leaves of a Red Oak on our county road stopped us in our tracks.

These small trees never have a chance to grow into full grown trees because the county maintenance crews periodically chop down the trees and other plants on the sides of the roads.

My observation – the native Red Oaks have deeper reds than those purchased from a nursery.

“The problem with winter sports is that–follow me closely here–they generally take place in winter.”   Dave Barry

Pretty in Pink

It always surprises me when I realize how many different pink flowers are in the yard.  I guess because pink is one of my least favorite colors for clothes or decorating.

But Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)  bushes are totally lovely and as hardy as plants come.  This was a pass-a-long from a friend. Because new plants come up each year, they have been moved to different locations in our yard and also have been gifted to others.

Don’t ya love gifts that bring pleasure for many years.

The flowers are so stunning that I can’t stop snapping pictures.  Grow in full sun and well draining soil.

The bush in the foreground is a different strand of Althea or Rose of Sharon that was ordered from a catalog.

They don’t even look like they’re in the same family.  It’s called Althea Double Purple.

More hibiscus-like flowers on another Rose of Sharon that is covered with pink goodness.  Definitely not roses, so why that common name?  Who knows. These bushes are about 9 ft. tall.

Texas Rock Roses (Pavonia lasiopetala) grows as an evergreen and is another plant that has a misnomer name.  They only get about two to three feet tall and wide.

Looks like a small hibiscus.  Full sun and a little water makes it a happy camper.

French Hollyhocks (Malva sylvestris) tend to grow up but not wide.  So dainty.

Phlox (Phlox paniculata) has just started to bloom.  Actually, it did not bloom its first year, so I’m anxious to see how it performs.

Annual periwinkles add a bit of color in semi-shade.

Alnwick Rose by David Austin has grown and bloomed better than some of the Austin roses in my yard.

Another David Austin rose Princess Alexandra of Kent was planted this spring.  Even though it’s still a small bush, it has bloomed its head off.

Besides that, it has an impressive name.

‘Ellen Bosanquet’ Crinum Lily is blooming in spite of the fact that the bulbs were disturbed last fall when a new fiber line came into the house right where they have been for years.  Their blooming period is rather short but spectacular.

“Well done is better than well said.”  Benjamin Franklin

Heirloom Bulbs

After many warm days, a hard freeze descended with vengeance.  Sharp winds cut through skin and clothes.

Thoughts of spring continue to fill my mind.  Gardening books help me to be patience for warm days.

I bought this book several years ago when I heard Chris Wiesinger speak.  It’s a large coffee table book but also provides history about certain bulbs and growing information.

There are botanical drawings as well as photographs of each type of bulb.  I’m not sure that this sketch accurately indicates the size of Crinum bulbs.  They are huge and sometimes difficult to dig up without cutting into them.

This is one of the Crinums (‘Ellen Bosanquet’) in my yard.  As I remember it, I purchased my first one when I bought this book.  Crinums are old south bulbs and don’t do well above the Mason-Dixie line.

Red Spider Lilies (Lycorius radiata) are usually planted in masses and pop right out of the landscape.  They’re popular in Texas, so I can’t understand why I haven’t had much luck with them.

I planted Naked Lady or Magic Lily (Lycoris squamigera) two years ago, and it has done well.  The Naked Lady name comes from the fact that the foliage comes up in the winter and stays around until February to April.  Then it dies down.  In mid-summer, the flower stalk shoots up and blooms with no foliage.

The delicate flowers are a welcome summer sight.

Rain Lilies pop up after a rain.  In the fields around our yard, they’re a special treat.  They last a few days and disappear.  How they came to be there is a mystery.

A little history about the author.  After graduating from Texas A & M, he received permission to use some land for growing bulbs to sell.  He traveled the south to find bulbs to dig up and plant on this property.  He encountered many older Southern belles and listened to their stories, many of which are in this book.Some of my favorite bulbs include Ditch Daylilies, considered common and unworthy by some.  But each year I look forward to their early arrival and classic beauty.

Kindly Light Daylight’s form and color are fascinating.  Even though each flower only lasts a day, there are lots of buds on each plant.  So they bloom for many days.

Crimson Pirate Daylily serves as a nice contrast when planted near Kindly Light Daylily.

Irises grab my heart.  I started out with old-fashioned ones planted in a field near the house.  They do well with the water furnished by nature.  Of course, there are more blooms some years than others.  One positive about bulbs is they will last for years and years in the ground unless some animal digs them up.

Then I discovered re-blooming irises.  Now I have many different colors.

Re-bloomers often have multiple petals with more than one color and deeper colors.

I’ve heard people say that they don’t want bulbs because bulbs multiply.  How crazy is that.?  Sure, the bulbs must be dug up and separated.  But that’s not necessary for several years.  To me, that means free flowers to spread around your yard and to share with others.

“How lovely the silence of growing things.”  unknown

Summer White

Generally, brightly colored flowers are my first choice for the yard.  However, white ones add sophistication and calm in the garden.

This Moon Flower, Thorn-apple, or Jimsonweed (Datura wrightii Regel) usually produces pure white flowers.  This one has a slight pinkish tinge.  Not sure why.  This is a shady area most of the day with some early morning light.

Please ignore the clutter below the flower.

Datura is a narcotic and if ingested, could be lethal.

This Butterfly plant is in a container.  It seems to have done better in the heat than the ones in a flowerbed.  It could be because I’m more conscientious about watering potted plants because I’m afraid they will dry out quickly.

White Gaura (Oenothera lindheimeri) is a pollinator magnet, plus it looks lovely swaying in the wind.  Note the visitor in the upper right corner of picture.

This Purple Datura actually looks white with a hint of purple along the edges of the petals.  Pictures on the internet show some with a deep purple color.  The Purple Datura originates several places in Asia.

The leaves also differ from the white Datura.

Daturas are annals that have large, prickly seeds that drop to the ground.  If conditions are good, a new plant will grow.  Or the seeds can be saved to start new plants.

Night bloomers, so early morning is the time to see their flowers.

Love the double petals.

Clammy Weed (Polanisia trachysperma) is in the Cleonmaceae family and has the look of the more popular Spider Flower or Cleome.

Seeds from Clammy Weed from a friend who is into natives.  Plant one and have a generous crop next year.

The plant’s height is about a foot tall.  Many consider it a weed, like the name.  And, it is definitely sticky or clammy.

One characteristic of the Southern Crinim Lily is the growth of the bulb to a large size and the multiplication of the bulb.  While it may be difficult to dig up, it’s a great pass-along plant that will be appreciated by the person receiving it.

The flowers tend to droop slightly.

There are conflicting views on the web – what?  Old views say that white clothes are cooler in the heat, while darker ones absorb the heat.  This view was practiced by the rich in the 18th and 19th century.

New views espouse that black is actually cooler because skin is hot in the summer and therefore reflects the heat back to the body from a white garment.

Anyway, white looks cool in the summer.  Just enjoy whichever floats your boat.

“It sometimes strikes me how immensely fortunate I am that each day should take its place in my life, either reddened with the rising and setting sun, or refreshingly cool with deep, dark clouds, or blooming like a white flower in the moonlight.  What untold wealth!”   Rabindranath Tagore

Fading into Summer

Some spring flowers, especially bulbs, slowly fade away as the heat of summer looms heavy and seems to drop like a blanket.

Stella de Oro Daylily (Hemerocallis Stella D’Oro) is a profusive bloomer with dainty flowers close to the ground.  They have a pretty long blooming period, but give up when high temps arrive.

Ditch Daylilies or Tawny Daylilies (Hemerocallis fulva) also have a long bloom period.  This picture was taken at the height of the spring.

Still, a few hang on.  These are old fashioned lilies that have been around a long time and are as tough as nails.

This common daylily is a different species than the typical hybridized daylilies sold at nurseries.  They may be only available as a passalong plant.

Kindly Light Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Kindly Light’) is a show stealer.  This spider-look lily was developed in 1949 and is still popular.

Paired with Crimson Pirate Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Crimson Pirate’), the look is fantastic.

Some nurseries advertise Crimson Pirate as a summer lily.  But here, in Texas, it is a spring one.

Crinim Lily bulbs are huge and multiply often.  They like the heat and can survive in full sun but appreciate some afternoon shade.  These had to be moved out of a flower bed when fiber cable was installed.  I was surprised that they bloomed this year.

Crinim Lilies are old timey Southern passalong bulbs.  They can be found at abandoned houses where they have survived for many years without any care.

Bee Balm, Monarda, Bergamot, or Oswego tea is also at the end of its spring time show.  This picture was snapped a couple of weeks ago.

It’s a hardy perennial that grows 2 to 3 ft. tall and needs staking.  I put a wire cage around them, which works well.

The form of these flowers always makes me think of the Shaggy Dog movie.  Not only are they pretty and bright, pollinators love them.  Bees and hummingbirds visit them often.

With the temperatures into the three digits, early morning is the only time to garden and to actually enjoy the garden.  Hope you can find a time to enjoy being outside, wherever you live.

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”  Prov.12:18

Popping Up

It’s a time of hope and joy.  I could get discouraged about all the work that needs to be done outside.  But, instead, I’m excited to see the coming beauty.

Even if all the work doesn’t get done, the flowers will bloom.

This is an exciting time when new leaves pop up.  That means flowers won’t be far behind.  There are both Crimson Pirate Daylilies (Hemerocallis ‘Crimson Pirate’) and Kindly Light Daylilies (Hemerocallis ‘Kindly Light’) in this bed.

Since Daffodils are the first bulb flowers to open here, they’re probably need the end of their show now.

The thing about Daffodils is that they grow so low to the ground and droop slightly, so it’s hard to really see their faces.  So bend down or get on your knees to fully appreciate them.  Yes, it is hard for me, too, to get on my knees.

There are two flowerbeds filled with Ditch Lilies greenery.  What a long lasting show they will put one.

All ornamental bulb plants have leaves that store their food during dormant periods, like winter.  So the foliage should not be cut off until they dry completely at the end of their blooming season.

Three Byzantine Gladiolus(Gladiolus communis subsp. byzantinus) bulbs were planted last October.  These are new for me, and I can’t wait to see them.  They are native to the Mediterranean area, so they love heat.

These were ordered from Old House Gardens, a family business in Michigan.  I’m pretty careful where I order plants from.  So although this company is far north, they have proven reliable.  They inform me if I order something that won’t grow here, and they contract out growing certain bulbs in some places in the south.  Their emails are fun as well as informational about what to plant at a certain time and what they have for sale.

Crinum Lily bulbs are very large (these were about 6 – 7 inches across) and difficult to dig up.  They can get large enough to weight 20 pounds.  Years ago three were planted close to the house for winter protection.  They have done very well and multiplied many times.  They needed to be dug up and separated but seemed like daunting task.

A new telephone fiber line going in that area forced me to perform that task.  So many were dug up quickly one evening and put in pots.  Some were damaged but I think they all will survive.  Now I just have to figure out where to plant them.  Crinums are worth it to me.

Stella de Oro Daylilies are low growing beauties with yellow blooms.

One of the great things about bulbs is that they’re such a nice surprise each spring.  I forgot that these Hyacinths were in this bed.

And I certainly don’t remember moving this one to this spot.

Each year I put off dividing these Ornamental Onions.  This year it’s a must job.  I need plants for two garden club plant sales, so that is my incentive.  As they say, just get ‘er done.

I have reblooming Irises all over the yard and love how their colors enrich each spot.

I’m a huge fan of bulbs.  I love how consistent and reliable they are, their gorgeous flowers and the anticipation they provide.

“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you change the environment in which it grows, not the flower.”  Alexander Den Heijer

Oppressive Blanket of Heat

Just a week or two of high temperatures with no rain can transform a pretty garden to dry crusty leaves, dead flowers, and limp stems and foliage.

For the first half of July, everything still looked pretty good.  The Vitex on the left had finished blooming and the Pink Coneflowers still had some flowers.  I recently pruned the Vitex in the hopes that it will bloom again this fall.

Hardy Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) last a long time:  from mid spring until mid July, depending on the weather .  Their refreshing look makes me happy.  But everything has its limits.  100 plus temperatures and dry heat with no relief buries us all.

This year a whole swarth of them came up among the Mexican Feathergrass (Nassella tenuissima).

The Crinums bloomed longer than usual this year.  But now the flowers are gone and the long leaves are looking ragged.

Enjoyed them while they were here.

This Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpheta cayennensis, S. indica) has struggled this year.  It receives some morning sun but doesn’t get direct sun after about 11 am.

The routine now is for me to get out early, just after the sun rises, and water pot plants every other day.  Because I have so many, it takes over an hour.  Gardening obession has gotten a little out of hand.

White Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri has been changed to Oenothera lindheimeri, according to Wikipedia) still looks pretty good, although it has thinned out a little since this picture was taken.

Butterflies and bees love Gaura.  It always amazes me how the pollinators get anything out of some small flowers.

Pink Gaura also is surviving the heat.

I have several Daturas or Jimsonweeds (Datura stramonium) in the shade, so they are doing well.  Have to be out at night or early morning to catch their lovely white blossoms.

Purple Heart is also in the shade most of the day, so it is thriving.  I have mistakenly identifed Purple Heart  as Wandering Jew in some posts.  A friend pointed out that they are not the same plant at all.

Mexican Petunia (Ruellia simplex) marches on.  I don’t think anything can kill it.  In fact, I have been trying to kill some that is encroaching on a rose bush.  It took multiple applications of Round Up before there was any noticeable damage.

Mexican Petunias love the heat.  Can’t say that I agree with them.  Hope you live in cooler temperatures or can stay inside and enjoy A/C most of the time.

Prayer is exhaling the spirit of man and inhaling the spirit of God.”  Edwin KeithSave

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